Sorry, two posts back to back.

Day 2

Share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul.


This is ridiculously difficult. How to narrow down? Especially in the book realm. And I'm not going to claim a life-changing power for any of these things. It's more that these are works whose influence I consciously recognized or that were among the millions of things shaping my taste and personality. (I'm including one for each category, because why not?)


Book - In my early 20s, I fell absolutely, swooningly in love with Virginia Woolf, and the thing that cemented it were her diaries. I read all of them, all her letters, all her reviews, most of her novels. I read biographies. I consumed everything I could find concerning Bloomsbury until it was coming out of my ears. The first Woolf books I purchased came from a small used bookstore in the Castro district of San Francisco, staffed by a charming gay man named (I kid you not) Ulysses. It doomed me to craving a literary life, in devotion to which I kept myself on a downwardly mobile path. That literary life eluded me, but I don't blame Virginia, and I certainly don't blame books.

Song - Oh dear, embarrassing confession time. Back in the day, I was in love with my best friend, the one who'd introduced me to the works of Stephen Sondheim, and Sondheim had become yet another of my obsessions. When "Sunday in the Park with George" was released (on vinyl! OMG), of course my friend and I had to get together to discuss it, because that's what we did. Our friendship was one long conversation about books, music, movies, and religion (she was, I wasn't). There's a song in that musical called "Finishing the Hat," which inspired both deep emotional recognition and (this is the embarrassing part) overidentification in me. It's a song about choosing between art and life.

In the show, the original George chooses art.

The song sounded to me like a wake-up call. I could easily imagine myself doing exactly that, only I wasn't (I already knew this) a genius in my field. This wasn't helped by the fact that the friend I was in love with was already in a relationship, and in effect I'd cast a romantic spell on myself that prevented me from moving on to someone/something else. (There's another song in the show about a comparable dilemma, appropriately titled, "Moving On.") Because of my overreaction to "Finishing the Hat" and this worry about my ascetic streak, I eventually got myself embroiled in a relationship that messed things up for me something fierce. I chose "life."

I still love that bloody song, and I still recognize what it's saying. And if I had it to do all over again, I would choose differently.

Movie - Hm, relationships are a theme here. In this case, it's Children of Paradise/Les Enfants du Paradis, which I saw at the perfect age of 16, in a borrowed classroom with a drop screen and a projector, on a junior college campus. It's a very French-Dickensian sort of movie, in beautiful, grainy, mysterious black-and-white, without a happy ending but with a tremendous sense of life. I staggered out of that story cave into the sunshine, transported by a sense of tragic romance and the human carnival, and utterly in love with everyone and everything. (Did I mention I was 16?)

Fast-forward many years on, and I'm walking down a street in my low-income neighborhood, every nerve on fire because a relationship I had no business being in has just ended, and it hurts like blazes, never mind that the ending was overdue. So I crest the hill, and the north side of the city spreads out before me, a broad, quasi-Victorian panorama, and it's as if something unlocks in my chest (okay, so maybe Chest Monsters aren't utterly rubbish) and a sense of the whole rich, teeming, amazing spectacle of life suffuses me. And I remember where I've felt this before, and it tells me quite clearly that intense experiences end, and life goes on, and the richness of life is the point, really, and I'm just one story among many. And it feels marvelous, in an extremely painful way, and very open and electric.

And life does go on. And for years I struggled not to lose that perspective.

TV Show - Star Trek: the Original Series. I watched it at the age of 11, and I intuitively understood the slashiness of Kirk and Spock. Of course, I didn't use the terminology then; that came later. But I absorbed that sense of "they belong together" with ease, and carried the assumption that of course gay men and lesbians exist into my school life. I probably had an unarticulated understanding of queer people in the world prior to that, but I think Star Trek brought it closer to the surface and in a way made me expect it; and made me expect that other people would know, too, and accommodate our existence via the same spark of recognition.

Needless to say, those expectations weren't always met.

Fanwork - Either Corvus Corone or The Onopordon Acanthium were my introduction to one of them most important people in my life, the writer who lured me closer to the heart of fandom, who wrote stories that gave me joy and slipped past my shyness to persuade me to leave comments, the friend who shared her brilliance with me and encouraged my first tentative fic-writing impulses, and who has been a lifeline to me during the past few years, which have been the darkest of my life. Without fandom, and fanfic, and the stories that caught my eye and heart, I might never have met Rinsbane, and that is unimaginable to me.
delphi: (Default)

From: [personal profile] delphi


Do you know, despite reading and loving all manner of writers who read Virginia Woolf, I've never read her work? I really need to correct this.
venturous: (Heart be light)

From: [personal profile] venturous


Star Trek!! once I discovered fandom, I realized why I was confused by my 5th grade girl friends asked me "Who do you love, Kirk or Spock?" **giggle soundtrack**

I loved Spock but I wanted to BE Kirk!
Edited Date: 2017-01-04 11:46 pm (UTC)
fire_juggler: (fire-podficcer)

From: [personal profile] fire_juggler


Oh my gosh. Someone else talked about Into the Woods for this challenge, to which I was like "Yes! And Sondheim is great! But SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE!!!!!!!!!!". Amazing piece of work. ♥

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com


Hah! I am only TWO WEEKS LATE in answering this comment. I am so sorry for being a useless sod. Especially because I adore Sondheim, and Sunday in the Park with George is one of my all-time favorite things. It's brilliant and heartbreaking and exhilarating, and the music can make me cry.

For me, Sunday, Sweeney Todd, and A Little Night Music are the pinnacle of his art, and they are ravishing.

From: [identity profile] cabinetcaligari.livejournal.com


I loved reading about all the things that changed your life, and explained so beautifully (and with all the anecdotes) why they did so :) thank you for putting in this much work, it was really lovely and inspiring to read!

I had this series of books too I devoured, from this Romantic writer, about the bleak emptiness of life and a lot of his protagonists choosing morphine-induced death over life, which I found endlessly fascinating when I was around 18 or so. Not that I wanted to go that way too, but it was that same phase where I suddenly listened to goth music and found the fascination with black and graveyards interesting rather than cheerless.

Stephen Sondheim has made such beautiful things, and so much more difficult and less easy to digest than most other musicals I know. I love his music, although it's difficult music too for me, with a lot of seemingly dissonant chords and melodies, and complicated lyrics.

And I haven't read 'Corvus Corone' nor 'The Onopordon Acanthium', but the author is amazing, and especially 'Corvus Corone' has made me really curious to read it. I'm so happy to read about your friendship and how she has encouraged you to really dive into fandom, and has been there for you the past years too, when life was being so hard on you. I can still be amazed every now and then at the kindness and lovingness of people, and even more at the deeply meaningful friendships fandom can give you.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com


Thank you so much for your generous response, and apologies for taking forever to reply! (I always think I'm on the verge of achieving a work/life balance. Curses, I'm always wrong.)

When I was around 13, I went through what I considered my morbid phase, and it left its traces on my aesthetics and preferences (I tilt heavily toward angst anyway, although not so much the stylized, theatrical version that got baked into Goth). Later, I listened to Joy Division and early Cure and watched symbolic b & w movies and just generally waded through the melancholy side of art. But on the other hand, I've been in love with the idea of beautiful fools and androgynous tricksters for just as long, and they provided a joyful, anarchic contrast.

Sondheim is probably the only musical theater composer whose work provokes such a range of emotion in me and a palpitating response to the intense beauty underlying so many of his songs. And I'm completely in awe of his lyrical genius. His extraordinary feel for words and music has made him a constant thread in my life. I go back to him when I need solace, and sometimes when I need to reconnect with those emotions. I suspect his dissonance, the complexity of his harmonies, is part of what breaks through my defenses to a deeper place.

Rinsbane is a remarkable human being, very easy to love, at times easy to be in awe of. Literary artistry is like breathing to her; it's part of who she is, her way of looking at the world. She still astonishes me. And she's one of the most loyal and self-possessed and civilized people I've ever met.

The people I've met in fandom have been unbelievably kind to me, even when I've retreated so far down the rabbit hole to lick my wounds that I could barely interact. The generosity here has helped keep me sane, I think. It's hard for me to express how much that means to me because I seem to have absorbed the belief that needing help is shameful. But yes. My friends here have been lifesavers and helped me more than they will ever know. ♥
Edited Date: 2017-01-17 04:30 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile] pir8fancier.livejournal.com


Les Enfants du Paradis was THE seminal movie for me as a teenager. It whacked me over the head and left me in a puddle.

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com


YES. There were a handful of movies that managed, when I first saw them, to hit me in a very deep mythic place, the internal workings of the imagination where art seems to open a door to certain hidden truths about life. Sadly, I can't remember the last time a movie did that to me.

From: [identity profile] enname.livejournal.com


I am tired, overheated and my brain is deceased. While I currently don't think I ever had a soul to change or imprint upon, it is lovely to read someone else talk about what moved them. That it not only moved and changed you but also fermented debate and ideas, and directed your life, even if sometimes for the worse.

And yay for friendship!

From: [identity profile] cranky--crocus.livejournal.com


The first Woolf books I purchased came from a small used bookstore in the Castro district of San Francisco, staffed by a charming gay man named (I kid you not) Ulysses.
Hah! That is *absolutely perfect*.

Even when I don't know the references, I love reading your posts. Your grasp of language makes me smile.
delphipsmith: (k/s)

From: [personal profile] delphipsmith


Ah, Star Trek. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. You have your flaws but they don't matter, because you embody the human condition in miniature: You are loving and optimistic and energetic and hopeful and, well, just plain fun :) Have not seen Children of Paradise but now very much want to.

On a totally unrelated note, thank you for your lovely long comment on my Love Hides in Familiar Faces, over at this year's [livejournal.com profile] hoggywartyxmas. I'm so pleased that the story touched you!

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